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McGahan joins policy backlash

MUNSTER have added their voice to the growing provincial concern regarding the IRFU's changes in foreign-player recruitment, claiming it has left "everyone in a flux of confusion".

The union's Player Succession policy, to be introduced for the 2013/14 season, aims to control the use of overseas players by making them position-specific and not allowing more than one non-Irish eligible (NIE) player in any position between Leinster, Ulster and Munster.

The pre-Christmas announcement provoked passionate responses from Leinster coach Joe Schmidt and his Ulster counterpart Brian McLaughlin, with Leinster manager Guy Easterby also expressing his disappointment at the manner of the release and workability of the proposals.

Now Munster's Tony McGahan has voiced his concerns. The Australian supports the concept of developing Irish players in key positions but believes there is an ambiguity to the policy which has created confusion among the provincial set-ups.

"Joe and Brian certainly made their thoughts known and I am in full agreement with them," said McGahan.

"I don't think anyone is against the concept of what the policy has put out, but I think a couple of things we were certainly disappointed with. Not only disappointed but surprised with the way that it was pushed through with regards to the policy itself and certainly the way that it was put through in a week -- that was probably the thing that surprised everyone the most," he added.

"That and the detail right into where the complex issues that accompany such a document (exist), that they are not explained or put forward so that ambiguity to the whole process certainly leaves everyone in a flux of confusion really."

Like Schmidt, McGahan (below) has been working hard on bringing young Irish players through the system, with the likes of Conor Murray, Mike Sherry and Peter O'Mahony flourishing under his regime. For Munster's last Heineken Cup match against the Scarlets, only three NIE players were in the match-day squad of 23.

As it stands, the provinces are permitted five NIE players plus one 'project' player, signed with a view to qualifying for Ireland on the residency rule. That will be reduced to four-plus-one next season but McGahan believes that, rather than just focus on overseas recruitment, the whole system needs to be looked at from the schools level up.

"That's a big thing and also for us, for me, it's not just the top end of the foreign players in the country, it is the process all the way through," he added.

"Academy structures, schools systems etc, what are the policies, where is the working put into them, is there a change of focus on that too? (We need) to make sure Irish rugby is on the same page all the way through."

Irish Independent